Scotland’s Clean Hands: Sturgeon’s Husband Released Amid Investigation

The investigation centers on suspicions of misappropriation of around £600,000 donated to fund the Scottish National Party’s pro-secession campaigns, as well as another £100,000 taken as an undeclared personal loan.

Peter Murrell, former Edinburgh SNP administrator and wife of Scotland’s former local first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has been released. He had been arrested in the morning, as part of an investigation into alleged financial irregularities in the management of the party. The investigators, at the end of a day of carpet searches, have specified that the investigations are continuing, but for now they have not formalized any specific charges. Sturgeon also assured him of his willingness to cooperate with the police, “if requested”, while he denied having had knowledge of the investigation before his resignation.

Clean Hands

There could therefore be a shadow of a Scottish “Clean Hands” behind the surprise resignation in mid-February of Nicola Sturgeon, for almost a decade pro-independence leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) and unchallenged first minister of Scotland’s local government: attributed then officially to personal weariness, fruit – it was said – of the wearing effects of the “brutality of politics”.

Justifications that can be interpreted differently today, in the light of the sensational developments in the police investigation into the alleged embezzlement that led to the arrest of Peter Murrell, 58, wife of the now former iron lady of Edinburgh and pillar of the system of Scottish power since well before Nicholas’s accession to the top. Administrator of the SNP and deus ex machina of its organizational structure for just under a quarter of a century – a time period that coincided with the surge in the party’s electoral fortunes – Murrell ended up in handcuffs against the backdrop of a day that ended with his release in the absence for now of formal indictment, while the investigation nevertheless continues.

An investigation focused on the prosecution’s suspicion of misappropriation of around £600,000 donated to fund the Scottish National Party’s pro-secession campaigns, as well as another £100,000 taken by the former administrator from the treasury under his control as an unsecured “loan” declared. Suspects Sturgeon denies had anything to do with her resignation, vowing she is prepared to cooperate with investigators “if asked” and has not heard of these developments since February.

The investigation risks making Partygate itself or other British national scandals denounced on several occasions in recent times by the former leader of the SNP seem small, such as the fruit of “Westminster corruption”, as well as “Tory conflicts of interest ” in the face of Boris Johnson & co. And now it could also offer a chance for revenge in Scotland for Labor, in the next general elections scheduled, unless anticipated, for the end of 2024, after more than twenty years of continuous humiliation suffered in their former northern strongholds of the island by the independence activists.

To aggravate the situation, there are the embarrassing images of a blitz that saw Police of Scotland agents garrison both the Glasgow family home of Mr and Mrs Sturgeon for the whole day, as well as the Edinburgh headquarters of the SNP : in whose courtyard a blue tent has been set up, as for homicide cases, under which to arrange boxes of documents and computers seized in hours and hours of searches that have not spared even the rubbish bins.

The picture looks like the sunset of an era, with a hemorrhage of members within the party, which went from 104,000 to 72,000 in the space of a few months, with controversies over internal management, and with divisions triggered by a controversial local law on “gender free” and above all with the secessionist battle linked to the failure of the Sturgeonian strategy of appealing to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom to try to obtain a referendum on divorce from London after the one lost in 2014 and after Brexit.

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Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.